From the moment an EFT Practitioner and client get together, the practitioner's "stuff" is interacting with the client's "stuff". All the practitioner’s beliefs, responses, history and preferences mesh with the client's beliefs, responses, history and preferences shaping the relationship that develops.
If you are lucky these interactions (which are often out of conscious awareness) help you and the client move towards your shared goals.
It's been my experience that when I am working well, in the flow, I am able to be with the client and their process in helpful ways, everything progresses smoothly.
Unfortunately it doesn't always happen this way, for some reason things go awry and progress is difficult. Then I assume that there is something at work below the surface of our relationship, that I have a part in that something and have a responsibility for doing something about it.
Some of the signs of unhelpful interactions may include:
- The session feels clunky.
- You feel clunky as a practitioner.
- Getting stuck or losing direction.
- Feeling an unexpected dislike or antagonism towards the client.
- Feeling an unexpected attraction towards the client.
If I take these kinds of difficulty as a signal of something working below the surface and do some processing work, then some insight and change usually arises.
Clarity begins at home
I think there is great value in being clear in myself when I am working with someone, so I have my antennae out for these "blips" in the process.
I also assume that I have a huge collection of triggers and projections that I haven't dealt with yet, so if something feels "off" that's where I look first for answers and solutions.
From my perspective EFT Practitioners are human beings just like everybody else. Hopefully we have been well trained and have many skills, but like all humans we are a work in progress and need to monitor our work and nurture our development to do the best we can for our clients.
Being able to recognise and deal with these issues is why self-development, self-reflective processes and professional supervision / mentoring are essential for practitioners.
In this article I discuss three approaches that I use to improve my EFT practice, by keeping the practitioner - client relationship clear and helpful, so that I can do the best for my clients.
1. Eliminate Limiting Beliefs
Find and eliminate all the unhelpful ideas that may be floating in the back of your mind that will impact on your work with clients.
Here is a small selection of some of the ones I found (and resolved) over the years in my own professional development work.
- "I don’t know what I am doing."
- "I have to get it right first time."
- "I am afraid of being overwhelmed by clients."
- "I am responsible for my client’s feelings."
Beliefs like this are very dis-empowering and are well worth eliminating because they lie around like little land-mines waiting to be triggered.
Unfortunately rooting out these beliefs is easier said than done, because, if you could see them easily you would have taken care of them by now.
See How To Find Your Limiting Beliefs With Just One Word! for a simple way to uncover limiting beliefs. (Andy's article on this can be found by searching this site for the title or the author's name.)
2. Get Professional Supervision or Mentoring
In my opinion this a must for anyone working as a practitioner. It is very difficult for us to see what’s going on because we are in the thick of it.
Having an experienced practitioner on the outside of the situation as a guide helps us to reflect on what is going on and to get new ideas for ways to go forward, as we continue to learn.
An experienced supervisor/mentor acts as a safety net for both clients and practitioner alike, and if you are an EFT International EFT Practitioner this is now a requirement rather than an optional extra.
3. Use Effective Self Supervision.
Between supervision sessions you are left to your own devices. One process that I find very helpful is 3 Perspective Tapping. (Andy's article on this can be found by searching this site for the title or the author's name.) It is a step by step approach to neutralising unhelpful patterns of reaction and interaction using imagination and tapping.
I originally developed this blend of NLP and EFT for use with clients to help them clean up their interactions with the “difficult” people in their lives, but it works really well to unpack and resolve difficulties in coaching or counselling relationships, especially the unhelpful currents that are running just below the surface out of conscious awareness.
Using The 3 Perspectives Tapping Process
In this process you use your imagination to explore what is going on for you and the client (who isn’t present) by marking out three positions on the floor in the form of a triangle. Each position is about a couple of paces apart. I use two chairs facing each other and a third chair as a position for the observer.
To illustrate the process I’m going to “role-play on paper” a scenario with an imaginary client to illustrate how the process works in the practitioner-client situation. I’m going to call this fictitious client Mike.
When I met Mike, my first impression was that he was quite fragile although in good health and about the same age as me.
I noticed during our first session together that I was being very careful and cautious when I was working with him, in a way that was quite different to my usual style.
After this session with Mike I decided to use the 3 Perspective Tapping process to work out what was going on between us and how I could change it.
I arranged my chairs in a triangle formation and sat in the “practitioners chair” and looked at the “client’s chair”, imagining the client sitting there, being himself.
Using this procedure will typically provoke thoughts, feelings and reactions in me which I can work on using EFT.
In this case let’s say I had the thought “he is fragile and weak” mixed in with a little anger.
I tapped on those reactions using “Even though he is fragile and weak, I accept myself and how I feel” as the set-up statement. A couple of rounds of tapping using the reminder phrase “fragile and weak” removed the charge on that perception.
Note: This process requires that you are very aware of what is going on in your own reactions and responses and that you can accept and work with what you find. However since this is what you expect your clients to be doing it’s not unreasonable to expect it of yourself also.
Then I checked again by “looking” at “Mike” to see if there were any other reactions being triggered. There was no residual charge so I could move on.
Then I got up and sat down in the chair I use for the observer. From this dispassionate perspective I imagined myself and Mike sitting opposite one another and observed the quality of the relationship between them.
From this observer’s perspective I could see that I (as the practitioner) was frightened of challenging him. I tapped out this reaction using “Even though he is frightened of challenging him, I accept him and how he feels” as the set up statement.
Notice that I tapped on behalf of that other me in the third person as if it was somebody else, as I would if I really was an independent observer looking on.
When the charge on that had dissolved I looked again how I and my client were interacting.
I noticed that they were walking on eggshells. Another round of tapping using “Even though they are walking on eggshells, I accept them both and how they feel” took care of that.
With those aspects cleared I moved from the observer’s position to the client’s chair, as I sat on it I imagined sitting down “into” my client’s experience. Imagining how this situation appeared to him from his own perspective.
The thought “I am incredibly weak” arose in my mind. So I tapped out this perception using the set-up phrase “Even though I am incredibly weak, I accept myself and how I feel”. When the charge on this statement was cleared, I, as the client, imagined looking over at myself as the practitioner and noticing if there were any untoward reactions.
A thought arose that: “He is judging me”. I tapped out this perception with a few rounds of EFT and checked again, this time there were no reactions.
I returned to the observer position to check how the relationship was. There were no apparent glitches so I moved back into myself as the practitioner.
When I was back in my own seat “looking“ at the client I felt much more relaxed and open, the previous uncertainty and inhibition was gone.
Even though Mike is an imaginary character and this is an invented scenario, this account is typical of the kinds of thought processes that can be uncovered and resolved using EFT.
You could ask: Aren’t you making up all these reactions and perceptions? All these interactions are going on in your head, not the real world.
The answer is yes, but it probably doesn’t matter for two reasons:
First, if you have any degree of empathy (and if you don’t what on earth are you doing being a practitioner?) then you will have at least some reasonable understanding of other people’s experience to go on.
Second, your reactions in the session are going to be your ideas and projections of what that client is like anyway.
Think of a client you are experiencing difficulties with for a moment. Notice your reactions to them as you think about them. You probably get a similar reaction when you are with them in person.
The fact that you can get these reactions without being with them in person tells you that these reactions are due to your inner representations of this client as much as to the client in reality.
In this process you are changing your inner representations of the client so your reactions and behaviour will be different when you are with them in person.
You could ask: Isn’t this process going to take hours for each client?
No, because once you have addressed this particular kind of entanglement you will be much less snagged by it in the future, so that all your future encounters of this type will be smoother and easier.
Although it takes a little time to run this process, in the long run it will make you a better practitioner.
If you don’t do it then you run the risk of being snagged and snagged again by the same kinds of triggers. How much trouble is that going to be?
I have used the 3 Perspectives Tapping process many times to untangle therapeutic relationships that seemed to be off balance in some way.
Each time I have learnt something about myself and the client and been able to respond in a better way. It’s been a valuable part of my work to become a more effective, less entangled practitioner.
Andy Hunt is an EFT International Accredited Certified EFT Master Trainer & Advanced Practitioner living in the North East of England. He is also an NLP Trainer and Practitioner. He works with people who give themselves a hard time and get in their own way. He is the author of the book “Getting Out Of Your Own Way – Finding and Releasing Unconscious Blocks with EFT” and the creator of the free e-class “The Tapping Habit”. Visit him online at www.practicalwellbeing.co.uk.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of EFT International .
Originally published on Mar 15, 2014.